PDA

View Full Version : Co-worker's teeth



NorthernAngel
03-07-2007, 01:05 PM
Ok... I really need some kind of guidance. Please help:

Background:
My best friend works in a youth-center and last year coached a team of school dropouts through a project in journalism. She then had a mandate of finding them jobs and/or interships to give them some kind of experience to put on their cv. So she asked me if there was a position for this one girl she highly recommended. I got this girl in the door and has been hired by my company full time as a data-entry clerk.

Individual:
She's a sweet person, lacks a little self-confidence and has a drama-full life. Workwise, she needs a little guidance in prioritizing her tasks, but overall is a good employee.

Twist:
She has very bad teeth, coffee and cigarette stained like I've never seen before.

Problem:
Because she was hired through me, I've had so many people at work come up to me asking me/telling me to do something about her teeth. Even the president quietly asked me if I could adress the issue and maybe tactfully talk to her about it. I realize this is really affecting the way people judge her professionaly - but I really don't know what to do.

Uh... help? Anyone?

wordsmith
03-07-2007, 01:14 PM
The fact that YOU'RE being seen as somehow responsible for dealing with somebody else's hygiene is more than a little bizarre.

You really can't touch this.

Ciderhillnh
03-07-2007, 01:14 PM
I wouldnt directly go up to her and tell her that she has horrible teeth. She might be really self conscious about them as it is....

Maybe get into a conversation with her, and just mention that you've used Crest White Strips and how they worked well for you and if she was interested maybe give them a try.

and1grad
03-07-2007, 01:16 PM
If the president is asking you, I think you better address it. Might not be comfortable for either of you but oh well.

Skyblade
03-07-2007, 01:23 PM
Yeah, I agree that you need to address it if the president is saying something. I would just try to pull her aside sometime and try to be really sensitive about it but let her know that she's doing a good job, but her appearance is not creating a professional impression.

wordsmith
03-07-2007, 01:24 PM
No way in hell would I ever tolerate being asked to address a coworker's appearance. Bad plan. Are you her supervisor? I can't imagine a coworker taking me to task for my appearance because a supervisor told them to if it was a concern but didn't wanna handle it themselves. I would tell my boss I didn't feel it was my place, at all. There are proper channels if it's a legitimate concern, and I'm thinking those proper channels aren't , "Hey, you know her, why don't you talk to her?"


There was a regular poster on here once who had bad skin, and had a coworker come up to him and tell him that appearances are really important in the company, and that he really needed to do something about his skin, and presented this as some kind of helpful, mentoring, taking you under my wing gesture. Totally inappropriate, IMO.

leoisillon
03-07-2007, 01:26 PM
wow, that's a tough one. I guess I would just gently tell her that you noticed her teeth aren't as sparkly as they can be. Maybe lie and say that you or a friend used to have the same problem until you started using whitening strips. Just be sure to tell her when you two are alone and make it seem like a friendly tip that you have for her. Kinda like when you tell a girlfriend her bra is showing... I guess.

and1grad
03-07-2007, 01:28 PM
The girl was hired thru her. Thats more than a "Hey you know her" situation.

wordsmith
03-07-2007, 01:34 PM
Still a supervisor's responsibility to address concerns.

If I pass somebody's name along as a potential hire, that doesn't suddenly make me their boss or their keeper.

NorthernAngel
03-07-2007, 02:38 PM
I'm head of my department and report straight to the president - he's a very fatherly figure who talked to me about it kind of like a concerned parent.

This is not the first time he has asked me to adress some issues with her.
She used to come in really slouchy work clothes: ie. oversize sweaters, sporty pants and running shoes. The hair was mess and makeup non-existant. The president did express concern about her attire but didn't know exactly how to go about it (we have a very formal work environment). So one day, she came in a totally transformed person, the hair was impeccable, makeup tastefully done and the clothes were very sharp (she had a hot date that evening). I took that opportunity to compliment her and tell her she looked very professionnal. Even the guys were impressed and came and told me - I encouraged them to go and tell her directly - direct positive reinforcement goes a long way in my book.

I'm in no way her supervisor - ie. she doesn't report directly to me - I am however higher up in the hierarchy than her - I guess I could be seen as her "mentor" if you will. She is part of the secretarial pool who reports directly to... you guessed it... the president.

I don't know if any of this data is relevant to resolving the situation.

pisces2473
03-07-2007, 02:43 PM
I'm head of my department and report straight to the president - he's a very fatherly figure who talked to me about it kind of like a concerned parent.

This is not the first time he has asked me to adress some issues with her.
She used to come in really slouchy work clothes: ie. oversize sweaters, sporty pants and running shoes. The hair was mess and makeup non-existant. The president did express concern about her attire but didn't know exactly how to go about it (we have a very formal work environment). So one day, she came in a totally transformed person, the hair was impeccable, makeup tastefully done and the clothes were very sharp (she had a hot date that evening). I took that opportunity to compliment her and tell her she looked very professionnal. Even the guys were impressed and came and told me - I encouraged them to go and tell her directly - direct positive reinforcement goes a long way in my book.

I'm in no way her supervisor - ie. she doesn't report directly to me - I am however higher up in the hierarchy than her - I guess I could be seen as her "mentor" if you will. She is part of the secretarial pool who reports directly to... you guessed it... the president.

I don't know if any of this data is relevant to resolving the situation.
Well, if the president is "fatherly," why can't he try doing it? No, I know, it just sounds bad no matter WHO is in charge. Do you have an HR dept? Can someone there address it?

Has her appearance improved consistently since that day where she was impeccably dressed? Or does she waiver back and forth?

LakeJay
03-07-2007, 02:48 PM
Do you have an HR dept? Can someone there address it?


That's what I thinking. Maybe someone do something on attire/appearance guidelines of the company. And if not then maybe they explain how the hell to address something like this.

AshleyJordan
03-07-2007, 02:59 PM
Angel, have you told the president that you didn't feel comfortable saying anything? What did he say?

Winter Storm
03-07-2007, 03:10 PM
I wouldnt directly go up to her and tell her that she has horrible teeth. She might be really self conscious about them as it is....


Yeah cause that makes total sense. If she's already self-conscious about it, go straight up to her and tell her that they're "horrible". :rolleyes:

NorthenAngel-I don't understand why the president asked you to address this. Where is her superior? Or HR? Shouldn't they be handlling a delicate thing like this?

J-girl
03-07-2007, 03:11 PM
Why dont you ask your friend (the youth worker) to talk to her. Would that make sense?

EmberMae
03-07-2007, 03:30 PM
Look, if she's not brushing her teeth that's one thing, but if you are expecting her to pay for expensive dental procedures then it's another. If the company cares so much maybe they should pay for it. My fiance has really, really bad teeth. Yes he brushes twice a day with whitening toothpaste, has tried over the counter remdies. But it's so bad his dentist has recommended porcelin crowns on all his front teeth, which would really improve his appearance as well. We will have to save up over $10,000 to have this done so it's in the plans but I'd definately be pissed off if some co worker thought it was their place to comment or to judge. She is probably aware she has bad teeth but as a data entry clerk does not make enough money to do much about it aside from over the counter products that have limited usefulness.

and1grad
03-07-2007, 03:31 PM
Does anyone really refuse to do something a superior tells them to do with "Its not my job"...especially when its something like advising a coworker about professional appearance? I'm not understanding the whole supervisor angle. Who cares who the girl's supervisor is? The president asked HER to address it.

embrassezla
03-07-2007, 03:33 PM
It could be viewed as inappropriate from toothy's POV too, though, especially since she's likely going to be insulted no matter WHO tells her. She could tell OP to bugger off, and might be likely to do so - not so much if it's her supervisor or the president telling her.

AshleyJordan
03-07-2007, 03:37 PM
Does anyone really refuse to do something a superior tells them to do with "Its not my job"...especially when its something like advising a coworker about professional appearance? I'm not understanding the whole supervisor angle. Who cares who the girl's supervisor is? The president asked HER to address it.

I think in a situation like this it would strain the working relationship too much for the OP to address it, and is different from saying "it's not my job" to a request to, say, take on a special project or stay late, etc.

weary
03-07-2007, 03:38 PM
Does anyone really refuse to do something a superior tells them to do with "Its not my job"...especially when its something like advising a coworker about professional appearance? I'm not understanding the whole supervisor angle. Who cares who the girl's supervisor is? The president asked HER to address it.
well, no i wouldn't say "it's not my job"...but i would most certainly voice my thoughts on how inappropriate this is, and that i would not do it. this whole thing is ridiculous. i feel sorry for the OP having to be placed in that position.

and1grad
03-07-2007, 03:42 PM
I dont think its that big of a deal. Strain the working relationship? She's not gonna go insult the girl. I dont think its at all unprofessional to ask the person who recommended the girl to address an issue like this with her. I think it would be more embarrassing for the president to come do it.

wordsmith
03-07-2007, 03:47 PM
Does anyone really refuse to do something a superior tells them to do with "Its not my job"...especially when its something like advising a coworker about professional appearance? I'm not understanding the whole supervisor angle. Who cares who the girl's supervisor is? The president asked HER to address it.

It's not appropriate to try to strongarm an employee into doing something a boss or HR should be handling, simply because it's uncomfortable for the boss to do so. It's going to be uncomfortable for anybody, BFD. But it's if it's not in the scope of my job to enforce dress code/appearance protocol with my fellow employees, I'm really not gonna accept it being pushed off on me.

weary
03-07-2007, 03:48 PM
I dont think its that big of a deal. Strain the working relationship? She's not gonna go insult the girl. I dont think its at all unprofessional to ask the person who recommended the girl to address an issue like this with her. I think it would be more embarrassing for the president to come do it.
would you feel differently if a colleague said to you, "the president asked me to speak to you about your hair. it's too nappy." and proceeded to offer suggestions on how to straighten it, cut it, comb it, etc?

this is not like the clothing issue mentioned upthread. it's a physical thing. this chick's teeth are screwed. as some others have said, that cannot really be changed w/o significant expense....usually not covered by U&C dental procedures under a health plan. i think it's insulting just for the OP or whomever to say it to the girl. a personal friend...maybe. a colleague? offering unsolicited advice at the recommendation of another colleague? nope. if she had a piercing or pink hair, maybe. not her teeth though. IMO. it's not a grill she can take in & out.

NorthernAngel
03-07-2007, 03:57 PM
We have no HR department. The boss is very old-school.
I'm kind of like a router between upper management and support staff: I'm not as intimidating as a director (I'm a manager) and am not scared of speaking up to upper management. So I know that messages come through my office from up --*> down and down --> up. (I guess that's the rational behind the president asking me if I could do something about it)

The last time, I hammered the "business look clothing" rule home by basically saying in front of the secretarial pool that I as a manager, and working in the offices, could not wear anything "dress down casual", no jeans, no tennis shoes, etc. It worked like a charm and there hasn't been any sneakers around since. Even got kudos from the boss for pulling that one off.

But teeth? That is so much more personnal that a slouchy sweater. Then again, she did ask me if she could get a tatoo on the nape of her neck.
I think unless she does come to me and talks to me about her teeth I'm not going to address this one.

and1grad
03-07-2007, 04:01 PM
would you feel differently if a colleague said to you, "the president asked me to speak to you about your hair. it's too nappy." and proceeded to offer suggestions on how to straighten it, cut it, comb it, etc?

this is not like the clothing issue mentioned upthread. it's a physical thing. this chick's teeth are screwed. as some others have said, that cannot really be changed w/o significant expense....usually not covered by U&C dental procedures under a health plan. i think it's insulting just for the OP or whomever to say it to the girl. a personal friend...maybe. a colleague? offering unsolicited advice at the recommendation of another colleague? nope. if she had a piercing or pink hair, maybe. not her teeth though. IMO. it's not a grill she can take in & out.
There's ways to handle it. Let me reword what I said. She's not going to INTENTIONALLY insult the girl. If my hair were really jacked up, I wouldnt be all that surprised if someone asked me about it. I'm also not saying there's anything the girl can do about her teeth besides the whitening stuff mentioned earlier, which is fairly inexpensive.

Words, its not inappropriate either. Sometimes bosses have the underlings do things they dont care to do. Its not exactly unheard of.

wordsmith
03-07-2007, 04:12 PM
There's ways to handle it. Let me reword what I said. She's not going to INTENTIONALLY insult the girl. If my hair were really jacked up, I wouldnt be all that surprised if someone asked me about it. I'm also not saying there's anything the girl can do about her teeth besides the whitening stuff mentioned earlier, which is fairly inexpensive.

Words, its not inappropriate either. Sometimes bosses have the underlings do things they dont care to do. Its not exactly unheard of.

I don't do people's dirty work. When asked, I tell them I'm not comfortable doing that, and leave it at that. Nobody's ever pressed it, because they know they're out of line even asking. My GM is always trying to get me to run interference with HIS clients. Nope. Not happening.

Winter Storm
03-07-2007, 04:31 PM
Here's my other issue with this. People wlak around everyday looking gross, distusting and unappealing for whatever reason. But who am I to tell them they need to change. Perhaps they are aware but have no problem with it. It's the same to me as if I decided to wear my hair natural and someone told me, it was innappropriate and needed to be straightened.

I say the person who has the problem with it should say something but I wouldnt do it.

Syracuse
03-07-2007, 04:36 PM
Maybe give her an anonymous note. That way she won't know it's you.

Dear . . .

You need to do something about your teeth. It is distracting to the office. Try teeth whietening strips.

Signed
Someone who is looking out for you.


I know that's kind of silly but it could work.

Winter Storm
03-07-2007, 04:42 PM
Maybe give her an anonymous note. That way she won't know it's you.

Dear . . .

You need to do something about your teeth. It is distracting to the office. Try teeth whietening strips.

Signed
Someone who is looking out for you.


I know that's kind of silly but it could work.

We did something similar to a girl who smelled............. in middle school. I don't recommend this now that we are mature adults. :rolleyes:

cache
03-07-2007, 04:49 PM
No no no. Not anonymous. Certainly not anonymous in writing. That can be construed as harassment.

If you are a supervisor of any kind to this person, or in HR, it IS your responsibility to address this. If you are not, inform one of those people to do so. However, the company must have a hygiene or appearance standard to request anything concrete. Like if the employee handbook says "ee's must come to work dressed appropriately and clean." Then you can tell her to brush or whatever reasonable request.

If there is no policy, then all you can do is inform her that it has been mentioned by several people that her teeth and breath are not good, and it is taking focus away from her work, making her and other's work more difficult. You can advise her to see a dentist or brush more often, but don't tell her that she has to do anything. Remember Office Space? The flair part? The boss didn't tell her to wear more flair, but suggested it would be a good idea...same thing here.

leoisillon
03-07-2007, 04:53 PM
No no no. Not anonymous. Certainly not anonymous in writing. That can be construed as harassment.

If you are a supervisor of any kind to this person, or in HR, it IS your responsibility to address this. If you are not, inform one of those people to do so. However, the company must have a hygiene or appearance standard to request anything concrete. Like if the employee handbook says "ee's must come to work dressed appropriately and clean." Then you can tell her to brush or whatever reasonable request.

If there is no policy, then all you can do is inform her that it has been mentioned by several people that her teeth and breath are not good, and it is taking focus away from her work, making her and other's work more difficult. You can advise her to see a dentist or brush more often, but don't tell her that she has to do anything. Remember Office Space? The flair part? The boss didn't tell her to wear more flair, but suggested it would be a good idea...same thing here.

Lol, I agree. I think this is sound advice.

weary
03-07-2007, 04:54 PM
No no no. Not anonymous. Certainly not anonymous in writing. That can be construed as harassment.

If you are a supervisor of any kind to this person, or in HR, it IS your responsibility to address this. If you are not, inform one of those people to do so. However, the company must have a hygiene or appearance standard to request anything concrete. Like if the employee handbook says "ee's must come to work dressed appropriately and clean." Then you can tell her to brush or whatever reasonable request.
If there is no policy, then all you can do is inform her that it has been mentioned by several people that her teeth and breath are not good, and it is taking focus away from her work, making her and other's work more difficult. You can advise her to see a dentist or brush more often, but don't tell her that she has to do anything. Remember Office Space? The flair part? The boss didn't tell her to wear more flair, but suggested it would be a good idea...same thing here.

yes, the company must have a policy/statement to that effect, but it can still be seen as harassment/inappropriate...it's a fine line. if her teeth are severly crooked or have stains that cannot be helped w/ brushing/bleaching, then there's really nothing for them to tell her to do.

OP has said that she is NOT the supervisor nor HR, so it is not her place.

J-girl
03-07-2007, 04:58 PM
Well the point is it may not be her place but her senior has delegated her to do this task. You have no choice but to do it. Unless you can come up with a reasonable argument for your Boss.

Right now my boss just left for a business trip and she gave me some things to take care of that I really couldnt care for less but I have to do it! Its not like she told me to do something that is not ethical. That would be a different story.

weary
03-07-2007, 05:01 PM
Well the point is it may not be her place but her senior has delegated her to do this task. You have no choice but to do it. Unless you can come up with a reasonable argument for your Boss.

Right now my boss just left for a business trip and she gave me some things to take care of that I really couldnt care for less but I have to do it! Its not like she told me to do something that is not ethical. That would be a different story.
reasonable arguement options:

it's offensive
it's inappropriate
there's no policy supporting this
i'm not HR
i'm not her boss

cache
03-07-2007, 05:07 PM
Agree with weary...if she is not in one of those positions(missed that part in OP), her response to whoever requested this task of her should be along the lines of "Since I am not her supervisor or an HR representative, I cannot address this issue with her. Doing so might put both me and the company at risk for harassment and discrimination actions. Please take this issue to either her supervisor or HR, where they can legally address it."

and1grad
03-07-2007, 05:18 PM
Agree with weary...if she is not in one of those positions(missed that part in OP), her response to whoever requested this task of her should be along the lines of "Since I am not her supervisor or an HR representative, I cannot address this issue with her. Doing so might put both me and the company at risk for harassment and discrimination actions. Please take this issue to either her supervisor or HR, where they can legally address it."
Ya I'm really seeing someone saying that to the president of their company.

zen_mistress
03-07-2007, 05:54 PM
I cant see why this is such a problem. If she is a data entry clerk what does it matter if she has stained teeth? Shes not at the front desk or out doing people-meeting stuff. As someone who has done data entry I can say they are damned lucky to find someone willing to sit and type all day. They should leave her alone. Unless they are willing to pay for her dental work..

pisces2473
03-07-2007, 05:59 PM
Very true, Zen. I just went back and re-read the OP. There's nothing about her being a sales rep or events coordinator, or even a GD receptionist! Who cares about her teeth!?!?!?!?!

J-girl
03-07-2007, 06:19 PM
reasonable arguement options:

it's offensive
it's inappropriate
there's no policy supporting this
i'm not HR
i'm not her boss
Yeah but wouldnt the OP lose her credibility by listing those options. People are always told by their boss to do stuff thats not on the job description.

Syracuse
03-07-2007, 06:21 PM
Question is is she in a union. If so she can tell them about what her boss is telling her to do being outside her job description. If not do as he says.

weary
03-07-2007, 06:28 PM
Yeah but wouldnt the OP lose her credibility by listing those options. People are always told by their boss to do stuff thats not on the job description.
if someone tells me i have no credibility with them for telling them something is inappropriate/offensive, i don't much care. that's what i'm getting at here. not so much the "it's not my job" factor. saying that is inappropriate too.

zen_mistress
03-07-2007, 06:38 PM
Very true, Zen. I just went back and re-read the OP. There's nothing about her being a sales rep or events coordinator, or even a GD receptionist! Who cares about her teeth!?!?!?!?!

Good data entry operators are hard to find, too.. I think she deserves more credit.

Anotther thing that I was thinking about is, if the company is so worried about appearance, why did they hire her in the first place when she looked scruffy and wore trainers and had messy hair, etc? Why werent they bothered about her teeth then? Surely they would have noticed her teeth at the interview. I find it all a bit confusing....

NorthernAngel
03-08-2007, 10:00 AM
Very true, Zen. I just went back and re-read the OP. There's nothing about her being a sales rep or events coordinator, or even a GD receptionist! Who cares about her teeth!?!?!?!?!

My bad, I should have been a little more precise, her title is Data Entry Clerk, however her job involves filling in for the receptionnist from time to time and she's the one designated to help me out at tradeshows localy (ie. hand out the nametags and giveaways to participants). This girl is a quick learner and has huge potential - I would really hate for her to be held back for such a trivial thing.

I did tell the prez that I felt uncomfortable talking to her about it - he didn't insist. Meaning he didn't ORDER me to "deal with it".

sidenote - Zen, I agree, good data entry clerk are extremely difficult to find.

zen_mistress
03-08-2007, 06:51 PM
Well I guess it all comes down to whether anyone is willing to ask her about it... and whether the stained teeth thing is solved by whitening strips, or $15,000 etc,

perhaps the president could keep the girl behind the scenes and give her extra responsibility there if they are so bothered by her teeth... find someone else to fill in at reception.

AngryMomma
03-13-2007, 02:32 AM
It's totally inappropriate to expect someone to broach the subject of hygiene in a work environment if they are not in HR. As much as I want to write stop picking your nose in snot on my co-worker's monitor, I restrain myself everyday.

If her teeth are so bad then the company needs to either pay to have them fixed or shut up. Dental work is crazy expensive and we all know "whitening strips" don't do a damned thing for people with very stained teeth. I know because I HAD really ugly stained teeth. She's probably WELL aware of how her teeth look - taking her aside to remind her how ugly they are is not the way to go, especially if she can't afford to fix them. How insensitive is that?


I don't get the people that say your boss told you to do xyz so you HAVE to do it. uh. no. If your boss told you to jump off a bridge and steal from little old ladies would you do it? Not the same I know, but the point is this is a sensitive personnel issue not a "I just don't feel like it" issue when you're asked to make 37 copies of the tps report again.

I'm glad to hear the OP made their feelings known to the president about feeling uncomfortable about it.

DaedalusX
03-15-2007, 02:34 AM
"Hey Johnson, that lazy eye you have? You should get that fixed. It's distracting to the department"

Seriously, what's next? Tell her she needs to lose/gain weight? That she shouldn't laugh because it's obnoxious? That she's a little pale and should get more sun, or that she's gotten TOO much sun and looks a little leathery?

Correcting someone for dressing poorly is one thing. I might even go so far as to bring someone's odor to their attention, if it was seriously distracting (and not a medical condition). But picking on someone because of their teeth is just petty. She had the same teeth when she was hired, so why are they not ok now, to echo an earlier poster?

The only angle I could see you taking is to tell her that if she wanted to move up into a more social, active role with the company, she would need to have a really professional appearance. If she's smart enough to promote, she's smart enough to read between the lines and see about getting her teeth worked on.




Originally Posted by cache
Agree with weary...if she is not in one of those positions(missed that part in OP), her response to whoever requested this task of her should be along the lines of "Since I am not her supervisor or an HR representative, I cannot address this issue with her. Doing so might put both me and the company at risk for harassment and discrimination actions. Please take this issue to either her supervisor or HR, where they can legally address it."

Ya I'm really seeing someone saying that to the president of their company.

I would. What kind of person wouldn't tell a superior that their request makes them uncomfortable due to legality or morality?